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Faculty Profile: Maureen Anne Porter

Faculty Profile: Maureen Anne Porter

Posted: May 10, 2012

Maureen Anne Porter spends her days teaching theater courses to Buffalo State undergraduates and her evenings rehearsing for upcoming performances and taking master-level courses in English literature at Buffalo State with other graduate students.

Soon she will share her time with yet another demographic—young children and adolescents—as lead instructor for Buffalo’s Theatre of Youth (TOY) summer workshop for children. The workshops teach children in kindergarten through high school.

“I love to watch the fresh perspective with which kids view theater, to see their perspective shift and change when they get to the end of class,” she said. “We don’t pander to them. We teach some of the same fundamentals of acting and theater that my college students are getting, just in a different way.”

A professional actor for the past 25 years, Porter is a member of the Actors’ Equity Association and currently can be seen in the role of Claire in A Delicate Balance at the Irish Classical Theatre, which runs through May 13. She met theater professor Drew Kahn years ago when they performed in a show together, and Kahn contacted Porter three years ago about an adjunct teaching position in the Theater Department.

“I have always admired Maureen for her application of theater beyond the traditional theater,” Kahn said. “She is a unique and rare actor in Buffalo, and it’s great to have her connect with our students.”

It was a change for Porter, who in addition to acting, uses “consciousness-raising theater” with professional adults. Through interactive theater workshops she helps companies across the country deal with workplace issues such as sexual harassment, diversity, and emotional intelligence.

At Buffalo State, Porter teaches introduction to theater, acting, and voice and movement to non-majors as well as theater majors. Some of the non-majors become so enamored with theater, they transfer into the program.

Likewise at TOY, she sees the transformation of children who start out shy and emerge eager to be on stage and reluctant to leave the class.  

 “Some of the teens, especially, may have a part of themselves they think no one understands,’ she said. “When they come to class or camp, it’s almost like they have their own language, and you can see that bonding, that sense of belonging.”

Some of her young students land roles in school plays and community theater productions. The majority just become surer of themselves and their own voice.

“Theater forces participants to have a new perspective, engage, and think about their own issues,” she said. “That approach is important to anyone in any walk of life.”

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